This Library includes special reference material – including letters, articles, press, historical documents, reference material, etc.

BACKGROUND NOTE: Material on this website produced by the MLHS before August 2015 must be taken in context. Before that date, the MLHS accepted the advice of the Town of Comox to concentrate on Baybrook house, rather than Shakesides, having been informed that Baybrook was more suitable for conversion into a public nature house in the new public park. Demolition of Baybrook was postponed in late 2013 and the MLHS was granted permission to produce a proposal for using Baybrook for this purpose. At the time of these discussions, Shakesides had a sitting tenant paying rental to the Town and was considered to be in good condition.

In February 2015, despite professionally-produced renovation and business plans presented to the Town by the MLHS in the summer and fall of 2014, Comox Council voted to demolish both Baybrook and Shakesides. Baybrook was demolished in August 2015, but the intervention of the Attorney General of BC prevented the demolition of Shakesides, which is a trust property for which the Town of Comox is trustee. The house has very clear legal instructions and conditions pertaining to its public use, laid down by Mack Laing, and accepted by the Town when they accepted the trust funds gifted to them on his death, as stated in his Will.

After the demolition of Baybrook, the MLHS commissioned professionals to examine Shakesides, and having been assured that the building was sound, proceeded to gather support for its preservation as a public, heritage house, and for conversion of the house to a nature museum as stated in his Will. A nature house or museum would recognize the importance of nature and Mack Laing to all Canadians, and would be in accordance with his stated wishes in his Will and the legal documents he signed with the Town of Comox.

The MLHS continues to fight the Town of Comox, in BC Supreme Court and at its own expense, to prevent any variance to the Mack Laing Trust and the demotion of Shakesides.

As as result of filing numerous affidavits and over 2,000 pages of exhibits, in 2018, the MLHS was granted intervenor status by the BC Supreme Court. Under the terms of the Consent Order, signed by the Town of Comox and the Attorney General of BC, MLHS can present evidence in court, and “make full oral and written submissions” including, inter alia, submissions on the definition of the trust, whether the trust should be varied, on what terms the trust may be varied, and on alternate variations to the trust.”

Any changes in this Order has to be agreed upon by the two Parties, and MLHS. In effect, this Order gives MLHS standing in every way, except in name.


A plan that honours Mack Laing’s Will and Trust and the Bequest he left the Town of Comox

ShakesidesBusinessPlan Oct29 2018sm – (presented to Comox Council in January 2019)


In 1973, Hamilton Mack Laing deeded his property (now the Mack Laing Park) and house (Shakesides) to the Town of Comox with strict stipulations about public use and access. In his Will in 1982, he left the Town $45,000 to create a “natural history museum” in Shakesides. The Town accepted the “gift” but rented out Shakesides to a succession of tenants, thereby preventing it from being used by the public, or creating a museum. The following document package outlines the history of the Trust and the decisions made by the Town of Comox.

Town of Comox Report (released March 16, 2016 – pdf): Town of Comox Mack Laing Trust Report March 16 2016

Report from Moeller& Associates, Chartered Accountant, regards what should be the value of the Mack Laing Trust (pdf): MoellerHMLTrustFundCalculations




Mack Laing’s Writings

Selections from Outing magazine, 1915 (derived from the Victoria Museum Archives and Google Digital scans).


HML BlackDeath of the Shore (unpublished manuscript 1951)


Correspondence with Town of Comox

Letter to MLHS from Town of Comox, including final Staff Report on MLHS proposal (March 10, 2015): ToCletter March 10, 2015

Legal Documents

Legal Opinion, William Pearce QC, June 20, 2015: William Pearce QC Independent Legal Opinion

Notarized letter, dated September 26, 2014,  from Alice Bullen, who was appointed by Comox Council “to look after” the interests of Mack Laing in his later years, after he had gifted the Town with the property known as Mack Laing Park: AliceBullenLetter

Memorandum of Agreement between Hamilton Mack Laing and the Town of Comox, September 19, 1973: HML MOA

Last Will and Testament of Hamilton Mack Laing – May 6, 1981: HML Will 1981

Last Will and Testament of Hamilton Mack Laing – March 1, 1982: HML Will 1982


November 1988 issue of Picoides, the newsletter of the Society of Canadian Ornithologists, with an obituary and article about Mack Laing: Picoides2_2_1988


Letters of Support

Denman Conservancy Association letter, June 27, 2017: DCALetter of Support

Des Kennedy letter, May 15, 2017: DesKennedyLetterMay2017

Comox Valley Land Trust, March 31, 2017: CVLTShakesides letter to Comox Council March 31 2017

Robert Bateman letter, March, 2017: BatemanLetterMarch2017

Gillian Anderson letter, January 3, 2017: gillianandersonletter-to-comox-council-re-shakesides-jan-3-2017

Bryce Casavant letter, December 11, 2016: brycecasavantlettershakesides

Project Watershed letter, September 9, 2015: PWBaybrook_Town of Comox_Sept 09

Comox Valley Conservation Strategy, August 29, 2015:CVCSBaybrook letter to Comox Council Aug 29

National Trust of Canada letter, July 31, 2015: National Trust Letter, Baybrook House

Heritage BC letter, June 23, 2015: HeritageBCLetter June 23 2015

Comox Valley Nature, President’s message, Summer 2015: CVNPresidents Message Summer 2015

Letter from B.C Nature, March 26, 2015: BCN Letter Comox March 2015

Letter from Paul Horgen, October 30, 2014:MLHS proj Water P. Horgen LetterOct 30 2014

Comox Valley Conservation Strategy letter, October 17, 2014: CVCSMackLaingProject letter

Letter from Alice Bullen to Comox Council, September 26, 2014:AliceBullenLetter

Letter from the Upper Island Women of Native Ancestry regarding the Baybrook Nature House proposal, dated September 2, 2014:

UI Women of NA letter



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.